Saturday, June 23, 2018


What I call THE WAR THAT WASN’T is known in Washington State history as “The Pig War”. 

Once upon a time, in 1859 on the island of San Juan in the Pacific Northwest, there was a hungry Berkshire boar who wandered into Lyman Cutlar’s garden and uprooted his potatoes. Not for the first time, mind you. Cutlar, tired of this pig repeatedly destroying his garden, shot and killed the offending swine. And thus began a twelve-year war.

Let me back up and set the stage.

In 1846, the Oregon Treaty between America and Britain drew a line at the 49th parallel. South of this division belonged to America and north was British Columbia. The treaty gave all of Vancouver Island to Great Britain even though it lay on both sides of the newly determined border.

However, the treaty was ambiguous on the islands that lay between Vancouver Island and the American coast. This issue of which country the islands belonged to remained unsettled for years with both sides laying claim to the San Juan Islands. One side stated the unnamed strait in the treaty was Haro Strait while the other side claimed Rosario Strait. Both American and British jointly occupied the islands. Neither wanted to back down for fear of loosing them.

So in 1859, when Lyman Cutlar, an American, shot and killed a British pig belonging to the Hudson Bay Company over a matter of potatoes tensions escalated. Cutlar felt bad and volunteered to pay for the pig, but his offer was refused.

The English wanted the “criminal” arrested. Cutlar evaded them and went into hiding. America sent hundreds of troops to protect the American’s on the islands, and Britain anchored three warships off the coast of San Juan Island in Garrison Bay.

With troops accumulating on both sides and tensions rising, the officers in charge of the Americans and the English agreed that blood shed over a pig wasn’t a wise course of action, so they decided to hold duel occupancy of the islands until the matter of possession could be settled. Both sides consented to have only 100 military troops each. The others left the island.

And so began the “war”.

Well, sort of.

The Americans built their camp on the south end of the island.

Marker for American Camp
American Camp
Remaining building at American Camp

While the English set up camp on the north end at Garrison Bay.

English Camp with Formal Garden on Garrison Bay

Other remaining buildings at English Camp

Why would two countries nearly go to war over a dead pig?

It wasn’t really about the pig but rather possession of the San Juan archipelago.

Though one would be hard pressed to recognize this as a “war” when both garrisons were quite friendly toward each other, with neighborly wining, dining, and parties together.

In 1871, both sides agreed to allow William I, Emperor of Germany, to settle the matter. In March of 1872, he decided in favor of America. The British troops evacuated the island.

In the end, the only casualty of this war was the Berkshire boar.

Several years ago, I enjoyed exploring this moment in time as the backdrop for my romance novel Her Honorable Enemy.

I love finding out about quirky, odd, and lesser known tidbits of history, especially of Washington State history. If I had learned about some of these rare gems in school, history class might not have been so boring.

THE WIDOW'S PLIGHT ~ A sweet historical romance that will tug at your heart. This is book 1 in the Quilting Circle series.
Washington State, 1893
     When Lily Lexington Bremmer arrives in Kamola with her young son, she’s reluctant to join the social center of her new community, the quilting circle, but the friendly ladies pull her in. She begins piecing a sunshine and shadows quilt because it mirrors her life. She has a secret that lurks in the shadows and hopes it doesn’t come out into the light. Dark places in her past are best forgotten, but her new life is full of sunshine. Will her secrets cast shadows on her bright future?
     Widower Edric Hammond and his father are doing their best to raise his two young daughters. He meets Lily and her son when they arrive in town and helps her find a job and a place to live. Lily resists Edric’s charms at first but finds herself falling in love with this kind, gentle man and his two darling daughters. Lily has stolen his heart with her first warm smile, but he’s cautious about bringing another woman into his girls’ lives due to the harshness of their own mother.
     Can Edric forgive Lily her past to take hold of a promising chance at love?

THE WIDOW'S PLIGHT releases in ebook on July 1, and will be out in paperback by mid-June.

#ChristianRomance #HistoricalRomance #Romance

MARY DAVIS is a bestselling, award-winning novelist of over two dozen titles in both historical and contemporary themes. She has five titles releasing in 2018; "Holly & Ivy" in A Bouquet of Brides Collection in January, Courting Her Amish Heart in March, The Widow’s Plight in July, Courting Her Secret Heart September, & “Zola’s Cross-Country Adventure” in MISSAdventure Brides Collection in December. She is a member of ACFW and active in critique groups.

Mary lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of over thirty-three years and two cats. She has three adult children and one incredibly adorable grandchild. Find her online at:
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  1. Such a fun post. Shows the nature of man when it comes to politics. Thanks for sharing. You book sounds intriguing too.

  2. This is an absolutely fascinating piece of Washington State history. I've put your book on my Amazon wishlist.

  3. Great post about history that isn't well know. Your book sounds like a great read. thank you

  4. I wonder how many other conflicts in history were begun over such a simple issue! Thanks for the info!